Foster Care as a Support to Families

by Stephen Flannery , Communications Officer, Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services
National Foster Care Month 2020 - Foster Care as a Support to FamiliesMay is National Foster Care Month and this year’s theme is “Foster Care as a Support to Families.” 

Our goal in serving and protecting children and families is always to make the family “whole” again by safely reuniting them, if possible. Often, this involves our foster parents working with, coaching, and supporting the birth family with the added help of our numerous community-based services.   

Jack, Tonya, and Joshua

Jack and Tonya’s son Joshua was born with drug exposure. He was placed with Jason and Holly while his parents worked through their dependence issues. 

Initially, Tonya was angry that another woman was holding and taking care of her baby. Holly was apprehensive because she didn’t know anything about the child’s parents, she and Jason hadn’t been fostering for long, and they had no children of their own. These feelings were compounded by the impression that Jack and Tonya would probably not be able to complete their case plan and be reunited with Joshua.

However, Tonya and Holly began to bond over baby Joshua. “She would always address me as the mom and tell me all the things that he loved and what I was doing right as a mom,” said Tonya. “She always encouraged me and asked me who I was, she didn’t treat me like I was just Joshua’s mom, she treated me like I was somebody and she treated me like a person.” 

The four adults were completely focused on Joshua and what was best for him. Jason explained they all had to put their own wants and needs aside in the best interest of the child. If Joshua was going to be reunited with his parents, then they had to help Jack and Tonya be the best they could be. 

Joshua was eventually reunited with his parents and is now a healthy and happy 13-year-old. Jason and Holly have three adopted children and are still very close with the birth family they helped to reunite.

Holly’s advice to families considering becoming foster parents: “Don’t protect yourself, be open to something greater than you could’ve ever imagined and hope for the best for your kids’ future.” 

Watch the Full Interview

Cuyahoga County currently has more than 3,000 children in our care—more than we’ve had in years. Most will be in our custody temporarily while their parents or guardians work to resolve issues; some need a forever family. Whether temporary or permanent, each of these 3,000 children need a safe, stable, and loving place to call home. Finding those homes requires normal, everyday people deciding to make room in their hearts for a child and family who need help.

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a foster parent, please call 216-881-5775 or visit